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Social Media Research
Communication technology and theory: Research into the interpersonal and social interface

Summary: We tend to view communication using social media, online tools and web sites, IM, chat, SMS, and so literally. Messages have authors, what they seem to be saying is what they in fact mean to say, and so on. The reader is the interpreter of what's communicated. But the medium not only transmits and enables talk by capturing communication on web pages, in chat and IMs, in emails, blog posts, and comments. It also produces the author: as an appearance or effect of the medium. This is enough to go on in most cases, but it does have implications. We do not "exist" online any more than a Second Life avatar exists in the real world. These are media of production. Presence, talk, intent, motive, character, personality.... all these are manufactured by the social media that are their means of production. HCI and human factors research has a deep field of study in social media.

What are you saying? Footing and mediated conversation

"Footing" describes the phenomenon of switching register, voice, perspective, or role in conversation. It's a rather straightforward way of admitting to the high degree of performance involved in talk or speech, for it recognizes that an interaction's meaning cannot be obtained from a linguistic analysis of the exchange alone. Words and sentences are not enough to capture the whole of a conversational exchange.

While some people are very adept at footing changes in phone calls, or have a verbal wit that survives email and chat, mediation generally reduces the bandwidth for changes of footing. It delays and screens the cues required for dynamic word play and for the use of references that might exceed explicit and written statements. The impact of communication technology on footing should interest anyone who insists on rich interaction, be it for the sake of pleasure, play, persuasion, accuracy, or something else.

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